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Different Types of Play and What They Mean for Children

There are various different types of play that which children can engage in. Some types of plays are fixed to a certain age group. However, most types of plays may occur at any age and are not strictly associated with any age.

The term ‘play’ simply refers to the way in which children interact with the world and environment around them. Different play types are very important for children for the development of their intellectual, physical, and social capabilities.

1. Unoccupied play

Unoccupied play occurs to form a period of birth to three months. Babies like to keep themselves busy with unoccupied play. This includes random movements that do not have any clear intentions and it may look like the baby is only observing.

2. Solitary play

This type of play occurs in between three to eighteen months of age. In this time period, children will spend most of their time on their own. They are not likely to notice other children playing around them during this time period. All that they do is to grab objects and to explore their world around. Many of them even love to stare at fans.

3. Onlooker play

The third type is onlooker play which occurs frequently during the toddler age. During this time period, children watch each other playing and learn how to relate to each other. In this time period, children offer to ask questions but may not want to join in. This type of play occurs during the toddler years. However, it may begin at any particular age.

4. Parallel play

Parallel play primarily occurs in between 18 months to 2 years of age. During this time period, children prefer to interact with other children around them. They often mimic each other but do not communicate a lot. During this time period, children learn the concept of what belongs to others, and what belongs to them.

5. Associative play

Associative play mostly begins when children are around 3 to 4 years old. During this time period, children become interested in others around them rather than just their toys alone. Hence, they begin to socialize with those in their surroundings. Associative play is in case a child takes more interest in people that are playing but not in coordinating along.

6. Social and cooperative play

Social and cooperative play occurs around three years when children start socializing with others around them. They find interest in their own activities and in the activities of other children. This way, children learn about the social rules which include the cooperation and give-and-take rules.

During this time period, children also start sharing their toys with their friends and other children around them. Moreover, they also make use of moral reasoning.

7. Motor/physical play

In this type of play, children start to play games such as hide and seek, and they begin to run around and jump. This involves a lot of physical movement, muscle coordination, and help children developing their bodies. In such games, children also learn the essence of losing and winning. They basically learn to accept both defeat and victory.

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